In my last post, I wrote about “The Necessary Thing” – making time to seek God every day. It keeps our hearts in the right place – which is vital because our hearts are the fount from which all of all of our attitudes, motivations, words, actions, and even our body language, flows.
We need to remember that our time with the Lord is foundation of our daily walk with God. But it is only the foundation – not the whole structure. We also need to learn to obey. James, the extremely pragmatic brother of Jesus, wrote in his letter:
So get rid of all uncleanness and all that remains of wickedness, and with a humble spirit receive the word [of God] which is implanted [actually rooted in your heart], which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].
James 1:21 – 25 (AMP)
Putting aside the things that are unclean, and taking the time to engraft God’s word into our soul lays the foundation for a life of obedience to God.
What does “obedience” mean? First, it means living in accordance with God’s moral law as revealed in the Scriptures. The ceremonial laws of Old Testament worship (the sacrifices, feasts, fasts, etc.) were fulfilled in Christ and the civil laws (hygienic practices, penalties for crimes, etc.) were specifically for the nation of Israel (although they provide useful insights for living today). However, the moral law – the Ten Commandments and all the other laws that flow from them – which are amplified and clarified in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles – should still rule and reign in our “moral universe” as Christians.
We are saved entirely by God’s grace, not by the law, but His grace does not exempt us from applying His precepts to our lives (Matthew 5:17-20). In fact, the opposite is true! God’s grace enables and motivatesus to obey God’s precepts, not just outwardly, but from a heart of love (John 14:15-17; Philippians 2:12,13).
But obedience also goes farther than following God’s moral law. It also means following Him. God has a plan for each one of our lives. Actually, God has saved us, by His grace, for the purpose of doing specific good works that He has already chosen for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).
It is an amazing and humbling thought to realize that, before the foundation of the world, God chose to bring us into being – and save us– to perform the good works that He had already prepared!
However, these good works may not look like a path to personal fulfillment or self-actualization. In fact, they may appear to be the opposite. They may first materialize as a kind of death to our dreams and aspirations – maybe even a yawning black hole.
In other words, they may look like a cross.
Jesus alludes to this shortly before He went to His cross:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
John 12: 24 – 26
The road to the works God has for us is a kind of death. A seed has to die before it can bring forth fruit and it is the same with us. Romans 8:13-15 tells us that all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. Being led by His Spirit is not always a pleasant experience. Luke tells us that the Spirit led, or drove, Jesus into the wilderness where He was personally tempted by the devil for forty days. That was not a pleasant experience, but it was a necessary one if Jesus was to fulfill His mission.
So, stay in the Word. Journal the insights God gives you, and apply them to your life. As you do, you will find God giving you light to your path and a lamp for your feet. Seek godly counsel on how best to fulfill what God has led you to do. It may lead to some hard decisions, but God will give you abundant grace as you obey Him.